Beholder delivered a spectacular performance in Saturday’s $1 million Pacific Classic (G1) at Del Mar, humbling the top older males in California with an 8 ¼-length decision. The stunning ease of her victory promises to be remembered for a long time and Beholder stamped herself as a serious contender for this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Keeneland on October 31.
“I didn’t expect her to beat up on the colts like this,” trainer Richard Mandella said of the 5yo dynamo.
“Beholder is in a class of her own,” said jockey Gary Stevens, who always had plenty in reserve as Beholder proved to be simply of a different class.
Named the champion 2yo and 3yo filly, Beholder appeared well on her way to a third consecutive Eclipse Award last fall before being sidelined by an illness that forced her out of Breeders’ Cup consideration.
The daughter of Henny Hughes came back better than ever in 2015, winning for the fourth time from as many starts this season, and the sublime mare has now earned $4,256,600 from a 19-14-3-0 career line that includes 12 stakes victories.
Beholder settled perfectly into third after the break, about five lengths behind the pacesetting Bayern, who established opening splits in :22.36 and :45.45 while being hounded by Midnight Storm.
Her slingshot move to the lead rounding the far turn is one for the highlight reel, with Stevens sitting chilly in the saddle as Beholder quickly turned a short deficit into a resounding lead.
“The funny thing was (about her move on the far turn), is that I didn’t do that. She did,” Stevens explained. “You could see her ears straight up. She was just going so easy. We went by Bayern like he was tied.”
She entered the stretch with a widening three-length advantage and cruised to the wire with amazing grace, finishing the 1 ¼-mile distance in an eye-catching 1:59.77.
“When we straightened away I pushed the button and she went on with it. I’ve never felt anything like that on a racetrack before,” Stevens added. “And I don’t think she’s done yet. She’s got a few more in her. And she’s got a special place in my heart.”
Favored at 2-1 in the 10-horse field, Beholder practically lit up the seaside oval with her brilliance.
The battle for minor awards took place well behind her, with stablemate Catch a Flight getting up in deep stretch to edge third-placer Red Vine by a length. Grade 1 winners Hoppertunity and Hard Aces came next under the wire, with Class Leader, Bailoutbobby, Bayern and Midnight Storm completing the order of finish.
“Nature doesn’t make many like her, ever,” Mandella said of the incredible Beholder.
Beholder romping to the wire courtesy of Cecila Gustafson/Horsephotos.com